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The Ghoul

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The Ghoul

Published 1933

The Ghoul is a 1933 British Horror film starring Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger and Ralph Richardson, whose debut film this was. The plot centres around a Professor (Karloff) who is to be buried with an Egyptian jewel in order to attain eternal life. When the jewel is stolen by his servant, the professor rises from the dead to reclaim it.

The film, based on the play and novel by Dr. Frank King and Leonard J. Hines, was once considered to be a lost film since the original nitrate negative had succumbed to decomposition and no prints of the film were known to exist. However, an incomplete and partly decomposed Czech release print was discovered which was the only available print for several decades. Then, finally, an excellent quality print was discovered in the archives of the British Film Institute.

This version is the Czech print. This item was public domain in the US due to the ommission of a copyright notice and failure to fulfill other copyright formalities. The item remains in the US public domain due to it's public domain status under UK law at the relevant date of GATT/URAA (1 January 1996) rendering it ineligible for restoration of copyright. Transitional terms of UK Copyright legislation stipulate that the copyright term for this film continues to be calculated under the terms of the 1911 UK Copyright Act. This film was released in the UK in 1933. Under the terms of the law at the time, Cinematograph Films were protected as a series of "Photographs" with a term of 50 years copyright from the date of publication, a "sound recording" with a copyright term of 50 years from recording or publication and a dramatic work of collective authorship with a copyright term of 50 calendar years from the death of the first deceased principal author or the passing of the actual calendar year of the death of the last surviving principal author. The first principle author to die was director T Hayes Hunter (1884-1944). All other principle authors died within 50 years of T Hayes Hunter. As such, under UK Copyright law the film entered the public domain at midnight on 31 December 1994.

Run time 68 mins
Producer T Hayes Hunter
Production Company Gaumont British
Audio/Visual sound, b/w
Language English
Contact Information <a href="">The Video Cellar</a>



Boris Karloff as Prof. Morlant
Cedric Hardwicke as Broughton
Ernest Thesiger as Laing
Dorothy Hyson as Betty Harlon
Anthony Bushell as Ralph Morlant
Kathleen Harrison as Kaney
Harold Huth as Aga Ben Dragore
D.A. Clarke-Smith as Mahmoud
Ralph Richardson as Nigel Hartley
Jack Raine as Davis, the chauffeur
George Relph as Doctor


Reviewer: JMYoda - favoritefavoritefavorite - December 28, 2011
Subject: High Quality version on MGM DVD for bargain price!
This film is a lost gem, however you should know an excellent print is available from MGM Home Video and is easy to find in Bargain Bins for less then $5. Right now has it for 1.98 (which is what I paid.)
Reviewer: jonfrum - favoritefavoritefavorite - September 30, 2010
Subject: Ehhh.... a good historical artifact
Unfortunately, this copy of the film is missing pieces, and is jarring where the cuts don't flow together properly. Some of the movie is quite good, and others have the stiff acting of the early 1930s talkies. I can see where it might have frightened contemporary audiences, but it's just too disjointed to keep our attention today. Archeology in Egypt was all the rage at the time, so the Egyptian theme would have been familiar to the public. Worth watching, but don't expect too much.
Reviewer: Richard Fux - favoritefavoritefavorite - March 11, 2010
Subject: Decent Karloff Film
This was a little slow in the middle. The opening was engaging, and visually attractive (proving that older movies can have lovely cinematography, even if most don't), but it got boring in the middle. The very ending was also very silly. Karloff is always fun to watch, though. It also has some pretty funny lines, mostly from the smart aleck old lawyer (or whatever he's supposed to be).

I watched the MPEG4 version, which looked and sounded good enough on a small laptop with laptop quality speakers.
Reviewer: PublicDomainForever - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 4, 2010
Subject: Uk and US copyright law
I have been reading the arguments as to whether or not this film is public domain in the USA. The main thing I want to point out to those arguing about its being under copyright in the UK is that UK copyright IS NOT USA copyright. A film can be Public Domain in the USA and not public domain in the UK as the two are separate laws from separate countries. UK copyright has no bearing in the USA unless the film is copyrighted IN THE USA, and was renewed according to USA copyright law.
Reviewer: yakofujimato - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 19, 2009
Subject: The Film IS In The Public Domain in the U.S.
GATT has no bearing on this, nor was the copyright in the U.S. restored. The film lost it's copyright status due to non-compliance. It had been in the public domain for over 50 years by 1995. Under these circumstances, 'The Ghoul' did not qualify for renewed copyright, despite what the other poster has falsely, or mistakingly, claimed.
Reviewer: MrMovie - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 23, 2009
Subject: Some Confirmed Facts Regarding The Copyright
After researching some facts in person at the copyright office where I spent hours getting these facts together and using the guidelines regarding copyrights prior to the existence of our current copyright laws it does not appear to matter which version of the film you are talking about as neither would qualify for copyright status in the U.S. based on two facts: 1. The original British made film was (and I quote) "Lost for decades". This being the case and with the U.S. copyright term at that point in time at only 28 years from date of publication (1933+28) it means that the film fell out of copyright in 1961. It was NOT renewed for copyright in the U.S. after the original copyright expired. The original British version was not re-discovered until 1970. That's nine years after the expiration of the copyright. The Landham Act prohibits (as does a congressional act) from re-copyrighting a previously out of copyright film (or anything for that matter) by use of trandmark infringment as an end-around to copyright status (Daystar Corp Vs 20th Century Fox). 2. This version is absolutly out of copyright because it never had a U.S. registered Copyright status to begin with. When they found the decent negative print in the British Film Archives of the original version and released it on DVD the only thing they could possibly claim a copyright for is the packaging and art work and some 'new matter' consisting of non-pre-existing materials which is a joke in itself as if the film was lost for decades what 'new matter" from non-pre-existing materials are they talking about? Even the person at the copyright office was confounded by this claim and stated: "If they are making any reference to a digital rendering or remastered soundtrack, that in itself does not qualify this film for reinstated copyright status by any stretch of the imagination". I was told that it is possible that film may have some type of ad-hoc copyright status in the UK but it has no copyright status in the U.S. and is not carded as such within the walls of the U.S. Copyright Office. I gave this film five stars because of its classic motion picture status of films in this genre from this era and because it is a rare Karloff gem.
Reviewer: busterggi - favoritefavoritefavorite - July 16, 2009
Subject: Better & worse than expected
I've waited decades to see this film & was impressed by Karloff's performance & make-up but he gets way too little screen time (though he's good in all of it) & it seems his death & resurrection are supposed to be rationalized in a throwaway line of dialogue which would negate the whole horror angle.

Basically its a convoluted crime film with a horror subplot as well as, imo, too much comedy relief.

Thesinger also gets points for a good job, totally different from his work in 'The Old Dark House' & 'Bride of Frankenstein', he underplays effectively & his breakdown scene is particularly well done.

Too bad it wasn't redone as a straight horror film by Universal at the time - it had decent potential.

Despite my rating of 3 stars I recommend it to all karloff fans.
Reviewer: guyzilla - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 16, 2009
Subject: Version IS PD
There are currently two versions of this film that exist. The Czech print (which this is) is PD, while the British print which surfaced some years ago is under copyright. The British print is a different edit of this film and takes the story in a different direction.
Reviewer: Walloon - favoritefavoritefavorite - June 15, 2009
Subject: It is not in the public domain in the UK
"The item remains in the US public domain due to it's public domain status under UK law at the relevant date of GATT/URAA (1 January 1995) rendering it ineligible for restoration of copyright."

False. The copyright term in the UK is the life of the last living author plus 70 years (the authors of a film being defined under UK copyright law as director, writer, and composer). Director T. Hayes Hunter died in 1944, composer Louis Levy died in 1957, screenwriter Roland Pertwee died in 1963, and screenwriter John Hastings Turner died in 1956. Thus, THE GHOUL will be under copyright in the UK through 2033 (1963 + 70). Its US copyright was automatically restored under GATT as of Jan. 1, 1996 (not 1995).
Reviewer: enola - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 3, 2009
Subject: Unabashed Karloff Fan
Wow! Boris Karloff delivers a magnificent performance as the self-absorbed and unsympathetic Professor Morlant bent on achieving immortality. Watch closely for Karloff's transformation from a dazed and newly arisen member of the undead to a maniacal killer determined to avenge the theft of his precious jewel. The range and depth of emotions displayed by Karloff in this scene (including a tiny but dreadful puff of his cheek) as rage overtakes Professor Morlant demonstrate why Karloff is thought by many to be one of the greatest character actors of all time. Scared the socks off of me as a kid.
Reviewer: quigs - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 2, 2009
Subject: the Ghoul is ghoulishly fun
Years ago, a biographical/memoirs book came out about W.H Pratt aka Boris Karloff that besides his early days in film it included a filmography one of the films was the Ghoul. It said he made this film in England and spent time with his family (his father, who disapproved of Boris as an actor and his three brothers)
Mr. Karloff asked them one day to come to the set
at the making of this film. His father finally relented and said he was happy he found something he like doing and his three older brothers (who used to torment him as a child) said they were glad to "baby brother finally make good."
BTW, this was the first British horror film.
Reviewer: ultimatebozo - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 29, 2009
Subject: A long wait over...
I can remember as a kid reading about this movie in the magazine "Famous Monsters of Filmland", and hoping that some day I would have a chance to see this movie. After about 30 years, I finally did,and I'm so grateful for this post.
As for the movie itself, I thought it lived up to my expectations. Karloff is great in this, and while his character in this film is comparatively devoid of the pathos he elicited in other roles, his portrayal of a juggernaut of revenge has an evil energy that I found compelling in it's own brutal way. The supporting cast is generally quite capable. A great, moody little "horror" classic.
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